Uncertain Times

When I think about the beginning of 2020, I have to admit: I was naive. I thought all my dreams and goals will come true and that this year will be MY year. I bet, most of us felt the same way. I was desperately waiting for this year to come! If someone had told me just then that my life will be turned upside down and that life would be so different than expected–I wouldn’t have believed them. I really thought I had it all figured out –my graduation was to happen, then my career, my future goals were laid out for the next years, my friends, my family and my relationship. I had it all planned out and everything was going the way I wanted. And I have always been such a person since I was a small child. I felt the more I had things planned, the more control had over my life and the things to happen. Then this pandemic happened and now we are living in the most uncertain, unpredictable times ever. Even making a plan for a small vacation or trip seems too far-reaching. But this made me think –when did we ever live in „certain“ and „safe“ times anyway? It only took a pandemic for us to realize and rethink our lives. How fragile and delicate each and everything in our lives actually is. The so called secured government job that you are dreaming about? Well, it can be lost in a blink of an eye. That car you own or are saving up for? Well, if you are not allowed to go anywhere, how will it benefit you? Some months ago, those possessions would have meant the world for me. But truly it does not anymore. Because those illusions and institution scan not guarantee or promise security or safety, happiness or freedom. What I realized throughout this phase is that freedom and independence is the only worth-while thing living for. All other goods can be taken away from us easily. I am not saying, let us forget to plan or have a certain idea what to for our futures. But let us not depend our happiness and end goals for a future which is unknown to all of us. Let us slowly learn to value and cherish what we have right now, with us and inside of us. I dearly hope that once this phase of or lives is over, we can stop our little friend „control“ monitor our lives and take out what truly matters. I hope we can find more magic in other goods which we have long forgotten, that are our gifts and guides to us –the freedom to express ourselves, to be ourselves, to travel and be carefree, to be independent, to not let our lives be ruled by just „hoping“ and „wishing“ for good things to come in the future, but to really value what we have right now, the PRESENT moment. Because we might want to imagine we have more than that, but we only have this moment right now. And we have to learn to let go of the need and urge to control everything that is happening around us and to us. And having that freedom and not depending on a future to be happy is the only real security for our fulfilled, happy lives.

Text by Leyla Dastan

The largest contributor with the least gain

MSME are micro, small and medium sized enterprises and are considered the backbone in any economy. The parameter of categorizing MSME differ across nations. In Europe, the main factors determining whether an enterprise in an MSME is staff headcount and turnover whereas in India the classification is based on turnover and investments in equipment/plant & machinery.

MSME’s contribution

The total number of MSME in the European Union is over 25 million, with vast majority of Micro sized firms. MSME represent over 99% of businesses in the EU and employ two out of every three employees. They create 85% of all new jobs and generate about three-fifth of the EU value-added. In India, the total number of MSME was over 63 million in 2019, with majority of Micro enterprises in the rural areas. MSME’s contribute to over 45% of India’s Total Industrial Employment, 50% of India’s Total Exports and 95%of all industrial units of the country and more than 6000 types of products are manufactured in these industries.

How many of these MSME make it to the next level?

The MSME comparatively struggle more than the large enterprises in the phases of development. These firms find it difficult to get financial aid, infrastructure and knowledge to support and grow their business. Governments play a major role here. With easing access to finance, promoting entrepreneurship, supporting start-ups, providing guidelines, initiating policies specific to the interest of MSME, tax exemptions etc. they prove to be a helping hand. Most of the nations have these policies in place to help and assist MSME and have proven to be effective to move them up the ladder, but this cannot be concluded for India and also for Europe as we can see a ‘Missing middle’. The substantial gap between the huge number of Micro enterprises to a very small ratio of Small and Medium sized enterprises discloses the challenges the MSME have to face in their survival and growth:

What can an MSME do on its own to grow their business?

MSME’s can do plenty of things to survive and grow. From utilizing the government aid, learning and acquiring new skills and knowledge, transiting from manual ways of doing business to investing in technology, building infrastructure, gathering funds, finding new opportunities for exports etc. One secret ingredient for the growth of MSME’s is effective marketing of its business. For a small business it is extremely difficult to understand and implement marketing strategies with huge budget but there are enormous ways that can help companies to stand out and carve a path of their growth through little understanding of Marketing efforts. India is paying immense importance to help & support small local firms. As the saying goes, success is achieved and maintained by those who try and keep trying, and it is time that MSME’s should try going online and marketing themselves to create an unbounded market that advances their growth.

Text by Kira Gisht

11 Effective Marketing Strategies during Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the entire world and companies are striving their best to sustain in this situation. Though the magnitude of the impact has been variable across sectors, it comes out as travel & tourism, hospitality and food chains are worst hit. For some the routine is least disturbed while the others are more vulnerable and face a complete 360-degree turn.

Change in Consumer behaviour:

This situation has brought enormous change in the consumer behaviour. Consumers who were more attracted towards fashion and beauty or were impulsive buyers are now making a more informed shopping decision. The number of consumers using online platforms to buy essentials have spiked. Hoarding of basic goods like sanitizer, hand wash, masks, toilet paper, flour was also observed in most of the countries. Consumers are focusing more on their health and also indulging in several hobbies, hence the search for news, health, cooking & gardening portals have increased. Few brands have ADAPTED but few even REDUCED their marketing expense.

Is reducing Marketing spend a wise decision?

Well the answer to this question is subjective and vary across brands. For small and new players, it’s far more difficult to cater and adapt to the changes the situation demands, while the market leaders have the resources and capability to explore new ways. But the solution for this cannot be to reduce the marketing expenses for any brand. The lower the visibility the higher the chance of low recall rate. It is better to push back your existing marketing plan and focus on the current situation to craft a message that is more empathetic and humane. A simple message with extra emphasis on the tone and language is far more productive as this will keep your brand in front of your consumers or even improve your brand image among consumers.

What shall a brand do to sustain in this current situation?

1. Brands need to rethink and revamp their marketing game to be more relevant and build engaging content to divert the consumers from this stress.

2. The cost of paid advertisement is comparatively low, and the time spent online is increasing. Brands can use this phase to advertise more &increase their ROI or at least remain visible.

3. Be more active and engage with your consumers. This can be done by going live on social media platforms, hosting webinars & podcasts, videos, commenting on social media posts etc. Creating videos is an effective way to connect with your audience. Studies suggest that 80% of consumers have consumed more video content.

4. Study the change in the media consumption pattern, devices and the platforms used by consumers and target your content/campaign accordingly. This is variable across geographies and demographic. Analyse your consumer data and make changes in your strategy.

5.Explore new technologies. Augmented reality along with AI will prove to be an efficient solution to aid consumers try products virtually. This will give a personalized experience to consumers at the comfort of their homes.

6. Another major change is the focus on product quality. Consumers are now extra cautious to buy products that are safe. It is extremely instrumental for a brand to showcase its quality standards across the supply chain to stand out.

7. The use of online payment gateway is on the rise. It is crucial for brands to transition on easy & secure online payment methods. To increase/maintain sales at this time when people are losing jobs/getting lesser salaries, it is also an important step to allow payments in instalment/EMI’s or even provide levy on instalment for few months.

8. Digital adoption has been significant among consumers and it will stay. If you are a small local brand, going digital would be a game changer for you. Introducing the business on digital platforms will increase the reach and awareness of your brand.

9. Few countries have even brought a new wave of releasing commercial movies on OTT platforms. This trend is new, but it will have a long-lasting impact. Specifically, in India, movies starring biggest celebrities are utilizing digital platforms like YouTube, Netflix & Amazon prime. This clearly depicts the power & reach of these platforms.

10.Brands should also be more careful of the actions taken throughout the business. A wrong step can ruin the brand image completely. Retaining your employees, providing salaries and small gestures of care creates a good image. This is well depicted by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). TCS ensured the safety of not only their current employees but also of their alumni by checking up on them through personal calls. Brands should also focus on providing a helping hand by contributing to the society. TCS stands tall here by donating funds for providing equipment, testing kits, setting up medical facilities etc.

11. Lastly, be more agile and flexible. Following the same tactics won’t suffice at this time of the crisis. Connect with your audience and provide meaningful solutions.

As the saying goes: All great changes are preceded by chaos, it might appear as a disruption and it is one, but the only way forward is to ‘Change’. Covid-19 pandemic has altered the way we live and perceive things, some of it will remain forever as a way of life. Being stagnant and waiting for the time to return to normalcy won’t let the business grow. Through creative thinking and effective use of consumer data, explore new ways and make your brand a meaningful one in this situation.

Text by Kira Gisht

EVERYTHING HAS 2 SIDES

Due to the corona situation we were all exposed to special circumstances, at the beginning everyone just complained and seemed hopeless. Some lost their driving force, others found themselves and could strengthen their inner self.

Every one of us students* has experienced stories in the past months and also told many, there were more dreams than hopes and more trials than successful results. However, this is not arduous, but indispensable for personal development. I spent my last months with us on the farm in the Uckermark. There is no appropriate word to describe how instructive this change of location was in many ways. On the one hand, like many, I felt that the technical conditions were not the best and on the other hand I was able to spend so much time with my family. In today‘s hectic everyday life, many of us for-get how important all the little things in life are. I would like to draw attention to this, especially how good it is to show gratitude and to maintain a sincere relationship with each other.

To say goodbye to you, I would like to give you a little poem, in the hope that you too will always follow your dreams.

Am Junihimmel spannten sich über den glutroten Mohnfeldern,

direkt neben all den verlassenen Wäldern,

die strahlenden und wärmenden Sonnenstrahlen.

Gegenüber auf der saftig grünen Weide,

welche der flinke Feldhase meidet

grasen die Ochsen und Kühe

stets bereiten Sie dem Bauern viel Mühe.

Aber auch der liebe Bauer weiß,

all seine Mühe wird sich für die Zukunft lohnen.

In der Gegend sagt ein jeder, sei besser als der Jäger

Ständig Achtsam, aber nicht unentwegt auf der Jagd.

Häng nicht nur am Telefon,

sondern verfolge deine Motivation.

Sei wie die Uckermark,

sei so wie du bist – egal ob dich ein jeder mag!

our daily dream

Text by Katharina Hauff

THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE CORONA RULES

CONTACT RESTRICTIONS

In the social media I often come across articles that are mainly about people missing their friends. But I re-ally like being alone. Almost always, when I spend time with several people, I wish my togetherness with my bed and me back after just 1-2 hours. I love nothing more than waking up in the morning knowing that I have no plans at all and that I can spend my day watching series on my bed in my pajamas and eating pizza.

I used to wonder from time to time if I should do something with people, after all it is Friday night and everyone is going out to celebrate and I am sitting on my bed burping with the third pizza of the day. Occasionally I started to have doubts about my social skills and the fear of missing something drove me into the stuffy walls of a club where the bass almost burst my eardrum, I scream hoar-se to entertain myself and have to give my last shirt for a beer (maybe not literally, unless the level is right). But now, thanks to the Corona measures, I no longer have the urge to do anything against my will. I can just lie around all day without any sense and don‘t have to talk. I finally have a legitimate reason to be antisocial and keep people off my back.

MORE FREE TIME

When the university was still open, my brain was useless after a three-hour lecture on civil procedure and an equally long lecture on land registry law, except for turning on Netflix and preparing a frozen pizza. So the rest of my day consisted only of eating, watching series and sleeping.

But with the online lessons, which are clearly more relaxed, which makes me much less stressed, I still have the motivation to make more out of my day afterwards. So after I have more or less slept in, listened halfway through an online lecture and finally got my brain up to operating temperature after a shower, I start to be really productive. Besides the extremely gifted jingling on my keyboard, I feel much better right away and I can feel my inner Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart coming to life. This is followed by a session on my ukulele. I confidently sing along to some songs of which I only know two or three chords and I start to wonder if my talent is enough for the next casting show. But this fantasy is quickly but brutally destroyed by my roommate who comes into my room: „Ey, since when can you actually NOT play the ukulele?“ he grins at me.

With an annoyed look I throw him out of my room and throw my career plans overboard again, I sit down on my cell phone and browse through the Instagram Feed. All the Influencer* and Instagram models make me complex and for fun I download Photoshop to use the tricks of image editing and also look like a Kylie Jenner. After a few minutes I get bored of just retouching skin blemishes or correcting lighting conditions and I start to use Photoshop properly. From then on, the rest of my life is really just photoshopping Zac Efron into my bed. Carpe diem, I would say.

Written by Kyra Fügart

#IDAHOBIT2020


On 17 May the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia took place. It was launched in 2004 and celebrated for the first time worldwide in 2005. The date was chosen on purpose, as in 1990 the WHO no longer listed homosexuality as a mental illness. Since then, 30 years have passed and in many countries of the world achievements for queer people have been made. It is particularly gratifying to note that Taiwan became the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2017. This is, by the way, the same year that in Germany marriage for homosexuals was legitimized by law.

Since this year the day could not be celebrated in public, members of the AStA have come together to lay down flowers on the memorial for the persecuted homosexuals during the Nazi dictatorship. This place is a memorial to the horrible history of Germany, which is often regarded as past and closed. However, vandalism at the memorial1 occurs again and again. Similarly, the number of violent crimes against members of the LGBT+ community in Berlin in 2019 increased by 32% compared to the previous year. (2019: 997, 2018: 733 violent crimes)2. Thus, in times of corona and the cancellation of events such as the CSD or the Motzstraßenfest, it is particularly important to stand up for equal rights and acceptance of all people and to show solidarity with disadvantaged groups in society.

1https://www.rbb24.de/panorama/beitrag/2019/11/denkmal-berlin-tiergarten-videoueberwachung-ns-opfer.html
2 http://www.maneo.de/fileadmin/user_upload/dateien/dokumentationen/MANEO-Report-2019-Teil1-online.pdf [Seite 9]

Anti-Discrimination Act (LADG)

At the beginning of June, the state’s anti-discrimination law came into force and Berlin will be the first state government in Germany to explicitly provide protection against the following discrimination by schools, administrations or the police:

  • on the basis of gender
  • ethnic origin
  • a racist and anti-Semitic attribution
  • religion and belief
  • a disability
  • a chronic disease
  • of age
  • of the language
  • sexual and gender identity
  • of social status

This is accompanied by a shift in the burden of proof against the accused authorities, who are thus obliged to justify themselves. In addition, an ombudsman’s office is to be set up to provide advice and assistance to people who have been discriminated against.
You can find more information on the official website. Please share this so that people affected are encouraged to make use of it. https://www.berlin.de/sen/lads/recht/ladg/ [only German, but we are happy to help translate]